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Helicopter crash tops 2005 Okinawa news

Date Posted: 2004-12-30

A US military helicopter which spun out of control and crashed onto a university campus in Ginowan is Okinawa’s top news story for 2005.

The August 13th crash of a CH-46D Sea Stallion cargo helicopter on a flight from its base at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station triggered massive protests from local residents. Three crewmen were injured, while there were no casualties on the ground. The Okinawa International University campus, where the helicopter struck the administration building as the pilot made a crash landing, was in summer vacation recess.

The helicopter lost control after its tail rotor malfunctioned. The pilot maneuvered the out-of-control helicopter away from a schoolyard and residences before it dropped onto the university campus. Protesters used the incident to rejuvenate their demands Futenma be closed, calling it “too dangerous to be open.”

The other top ten stories for 2005:

  1. A local girl makes good in professional golf, bringing credit to Okinawa. The successes of Ai Miyazato of Kunigami Village was the number two story of the year. She won first prize five times on the Japanese golf circuit. The 19-year-old is the first teenager to win over ¥100,000,000 on the tour.
  2. The Ryukyu Shimpo publishes secret letters between Japanese and American officials who created the Special Action Committee on Okinawa. SACO makes the rules for military operations on the island.
  3. Futenma Air Station’s transfer to a new site near Henoko bogs down as construction delays and protests abound during drilling tests. The prelimary environmental assessments are necessary before construction can begin on the new civilian-military airport.
  4. Typhoons lashed Okinawa 15 times during the season. This year’s damages to Okinawa totaled ¥6,800,000,000.
  5. A Nobel Prize first for Miyako Jima Agricultural High School. It won the Junior Nobel Prize from the Stockholm Committee for its work in water research.
  6. Trinity reform, a program initiated by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The program puts individual prefectures responsible and accountable for collecting taxes by communities and cities.
  7. Naha Traffic Bus Company goes belly up and into bankruptcy. Efforts to salvage operations and create a viable bus operation were a failure, as four bus companies couldn’t agree on much of anything, including prices, fares, worker salaries, and debt retirement.
  8. Chinese vessels venture into Japan waters. Incidents included fishing trawlers, ships and a submarine.
  9. Professional Shugi Okinawan player Kaori Chinen wins the National Championship Title for fourth time.

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